Back to the top
What happens on tour stays on tour. Oh well, if you insist… - 4th December 2019
Not long after Steve Cropley’s Volkswagen Touareg arrived on our fleet, I borrowed it for a rare ‘social’ with three mates to far-off North Wales. Just the sort of test that a large, premium-priced SUV should be suited to.
As chaps of a certain age with families and plenty of responsibilities, we don’t get together as much as we used to. So once a year we block out a few days and head for a remote valley for a weekend of outdoor ‘activities’ (not just involving alcohol, honest). There are four of us from the south-east, with others travelling from Devon, Cambridgeshire and Ireland. The rendezvous is a cottage that becomes our weekend base camp, although this year I was diverting the southeast quartet for an evening of rally action at Oulton Park in Cheshire, as Wales Rally GB kicked off.
I’d promised something comfortable for the journey, and the chaps weren’t disappointed – even Steve and Martin in the back. The big SUV proved the perfect tool for motorway cruising – quiet, refined, powerful, smooth – although it took us literally minutes to find ourselves confused by the giant touchscreen; even Martin, the least ‘analogue’, was left scratching his head on occasion.
Tony, riding shotgun, said: “The ride quality in the motorway setting was like an executive saloon. I’ve got a friend who’s had an Audi Q7 and now has a Range Rover. The VW definitely competes and feels as well built. And he’s had issues with the Range Rover engine management. Wow, expensive to fix… So if you’re not a slave to the badge, this is a cheaper way without giving up on quality.”
Steve was also taken with the Touareg. “As a rear passenger, it provided a great degree of comfort over the six-hour journey,” he said. “Plenty of rear leg room and acres of space for two adults. Technology slightly got the better of us, though, as we couldn’t get the independent rear climate control working.”
From the driver’s seat, the best bit was the sweeping A-roads that led us from Oulton into Wales. After a fantastic evening of spectacular night-time rally action, the sat-nav told us it would take two hours to make our cottage rendezvous – and it was on the nose. On a clear night, the Touareg ate through the miles, proving remarkably agile.
Flat cornering, endless torque and seamless auto changes carried us to the bumpy, narrow track that leads to the cottage, and without a hint of car sickness from the ‘kids’ in the back. We’d become familiar enough with the touchscreen by now to raise the ride height, and the potholes and rough surfaces were reduced to mere ripples.